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Stories of Giving

People making a difference in the lives of others today and for generations to come. What will be your story?

Mielke Family Foundation celebrates 50 years of giving

We’ve only just begun.

Reflecting on 50 years of charitable giving in 2014 and looking to the next 50, Dr. John and Sally Mielke said it’s all about keeping the family in the Mielke Family Foundation.

Establishment of the foundation by Dr. Edward and Bee Mielke, John’s parents, and his aunts, Ruth and Sarah, has allowed this generation of Mielkes to make a major difference for important community projects like the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, the Building for Kids Children’s Museum and health facilities like the Fox Cities Community Health Center. It has awarded more than $10 million in grants since its founding.

“Our hope is for our children to be there for the foundation,” Sally said.

The Mielke Family Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary by awarding $2.5 million to expand Lawrence University’s education programs to include elementary teacher education, beginning in the fall of 2015.

It also has been a leader in the establishment of the Community Early Learning Center, an information and research center for birth-to-five education and development. The early education programs based there will bring about 300 children into the center daily.

John credited CPA Winton Schumacher, bankers Harold Adams and Phil Keller and a lot of good board members with guiding the foundation through the early years, including Dick Calder of Appleton as chair for the past 15 years.

In 1996, the family foundation became a supporting organization within the Community Foundation. The family foundation retained its own board and grantmaking decisions, but looks to the Community Foundation to handle its investments and clerical support.

“The Community Foundation, through the years, has been very helpful to the family,” John said. It has involved future family foundation leaders by establishing charitable funds for three generations of Edward and Bee’s descendants.

The Mielkes agreed that John’s parents would be pleased that the family foundation has endured for 50 years.

“I frequently wonder what my parents would think of the foundation today,” John said.

To that, Sally answered, “Look how the foundation has grown, and we’ve only just begun.”